I can trust myself?? The story, and the truth
February 25, 2011 § 9 Comments
Hmmm, why don’t I just give you the lesson learned first, and then you can decide if you want to read the story?
Here is the Lesson I learned that I want to share with you: Take your dreams very seriously. If they want to be heard badly enough, they’ll keep coming back around until you’re ready to listen.
Learn to listen.
The story (the one that I repeat in my mind and share with others) goes that T&I were young and we bought into the suburban professional dream – we bought it ALL. The job with insane expectations and hours, the lovely home, cars, sharp clothing and mountain of debt. Along with it came bouts of melancholy and beating back the flames of our financial fires – all the while thinking we were on our way.
Years passed, and in the next chapter we were shocked into awareness by a personal loss and found that all the time, energy, and money we’d spent were misdirected. We learned that life is short – and realized that the dream we had followed was not our own. It was suddenly, shockingly apparent that the lifestyle we’d been pursuing was based on empty things, not on LIVING. We didn’t even know what we wanted, the not-uncommon story goes. I think we did know on some level that we weren’t happy.
And here it is, as I’m following the all-too-familiar arc – I tell myself, “I wish we’d figured it out earlier. I wish it hadn’t taken a loss to make us understand”. I have reconciled myself to this history by saying that it had to happen, we needed to be shaken awake and learn what we DIDN’T want first. These words helped me make sense of what I otherwise would have considered to be lost time.
The difference in the way I’m reading the story today, what I just realized with a sharp CRACK – All this time I’ve been invested in these words, I have been believing that it was this loss, this event, that shook us up and changed our whole trajectory. It’s been easier and more comfortable for me to invest in these words, to believe that we were duped – our priorities were a mess because we fell for the media-driven idea of happiness and success. I’ve been choosing to believe that we didn’t know what we wanted, that *we’ve changed*. When in reality, everything that we are working towards now is something that I can trace back to early discussions and dreams – in detail. I can tell the approximate times, where we lived, and the couch we were sitting on while we talked (long discarded for a nicer one). It took remembering just one to make them all come back in a flood. Creativity, movement, sustainability, travel, service, even writing. They were all there.
We really DID know it, all along. We weren’t ON a different path, we got off track from our own.
(For the record, I think T may have figured this out well before I did. It was a team effort, for sure, but a lesson that I needed to learn individually.)
Here is my sadness: My heart knew where we were headed, even if she didn’t have exact definitions. I didn’t listen, I didn’t trust myself (Ooof. A valued mentor just told me this just recently and I still didn’t get it.) I discounted all my deepest desires as pipe dreams only – not practical, not realistic, maybe when we retire, I don’t have the strength or emotional stability for that… All bullshit. I betrayed my potential place and purpose for what I thought I was supposed to do, success that I didn’t define on my own terms, and material things that never satisfied. I wasn’t listening, and that makes me RESPONSIBLE.
This realization smarted (oh boy did it), but with a couple days behind me now I know that it isn’t such a big deal. It is a question of perspective only. It doesn’t change anything that happened, it only changes how I view it… Our dreams came back knocking when we were ready to pay them some attention – and now after years of hard work and re-orienting, we have our act together. And if we don’t know exactly where we are headed, we have meaningful direction and are moving forward.
And now that I’ve gotten over the shock of being both wrong and responsible, this, then, is where I find the lovely, mysterious NEW truth that shifts the entire story: I can trust myself. I can trust my HEART. That concept wasn’t only foreign, it had never entered the scope of my awareness – My head planned and rationalized so loudly and with such authority that I’m not sure I realized there was another voice in the mix. Dreams were something my head conjured up for fun, a diversion from it’s “real” work. Now, this realization of what my heart knew and my head had to learn from hard experience brings them into agreement – a partnership even – and I feel whole for a moment. For now, there is no contradiction here. My head has learned to respect my heart. And with this new truth, I may be better able to trust the nudges of my intuition in the future.